Bob Hope

  1. Cary Grant, His Girl Friday, 1939.  The classic comedy with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell was first  devised by director  Howard Hawks for Clark Gable and Marion Davies…  and even for Bob Hope and Marion Davies. Hawks cleverly changed Hildy from male to female and quickened the dialogue by having actors overlapping each other’s lines – long before Robert Altman was locked out of Warner Bros for doing it in Countdown, 1966… and for ever after.

  2. Cary Grant, Arsenic and Old Lace, 1941.  
    Frank Capra is one of the great Hollywood directors…. and liars!  He told Grant that he was the only actor in America who could do justice to the screwball role of Mortimer Brewster. So what did Capra tell  Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Ronald Reagan (!) and Richard Traviis (who?). Hope was keen, Of course, he was! It was a screwball comedy for Frank Capra. Paramount, however, would not loan him.  For all the usual (financial) r. What if it was a hit – and he became even  bigger, more expensive  star?  What if it wasn’t  a hit – and it  ruined him  at the box-office?  When (all) Hope was lost, Jack Warner borrowed Grant and had Mortimer beefed  up for him. Shot in 1941, when Archie Leach legally became Cary Grant, the release was delayed, as per contract, until after the play closed… in 1944. Cary Grant felt his Mortimer was way over the top. “Jimmy Stewart would have done a much better job. He would have been wonderful… I told Frank Capra that at the time,  He just wouldn’t t listen.” The  scriptwriting Epstein twins said that Cary blew it.   Capra agreed.  He’d solve it in the final edit.  Except  he went to film WWII  for  his superb  Why We Fight series.

  3. Eddie Bracken, The Fleet’s In, 1941. Paramount first viewed the sailors-ashore comedy-musical as a Hope and Crosby vehicle. Instead, the suits decided to boost its new talent – William Holden, Dortohy Lamour, Betty Hutton and Bracken. Bing ’n’ Bob were better.
  4. Franchot Tone, True To Life, 1943.  The old firm of Hope and Bing Crosby were first due as radio writers trying to save  their failing show. They turned into Dick Powell and Tone.

  5. Bud Abbott, Abbott & Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff, 1949.   After the triumph  of Bud Abbott & Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein in 1948, Universal ordered more of the same…
  6. Lou Costello, Abbott & Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff, 1949. … and found it in what had been written as Easy Does It for Hope and glory, Universal had the solo role re-tailored for the suddenly hotter comic duo… opposite Karloff in a role orignally penned for a woman!

  7. Marlon Brando, Guys and Dolls, 1956.   Jumping the gun, thinking it had won the rights battle for the Broadway hit musical, Paramount unveiled its ho-hum-yawn casting of Crosby, Bob  Hope, Betty Grable and Jane Russell on The Road to Broasdway….  The studio’s next light bulb moments was…Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis  But MGM saved the day with Brando and Frank Sinatra as Sky Masterson and Nathan  Detroit.
  8. Tony Curtis, Some Like It Hot, 1958.    Co-writer and director Billy Wilder’s first thoughts for “the impossible comedy” (cross-dressing, homosexuality, dead bodies, gangsters, the St Valentine’s Day massacre) was Bob, Danny Kaye and little Mitzi Gaynor! Ironically, the perfect comedy’s title came from Hope’s sixth feature, circa 1938.
  9. Cary Grant, Operation Petticoat, 1959.  Regrets, he had a few and  refusing to  be  Lieutenant-Commander Matt T Sherman, skipper of the Sea Tiger sub,  was the #1 regret ot his career. This was Hope’s third loss to Grant, while he only won two back from Grant: They Got Me Covered 1943, and  The Iron Petticoat,  with a four time Grant co-star, Katharine Hepburn , in 1956.   
  10. Tony Curtis, Who Was That Lady? 1959.  Old mates Hope and Bing Crosby saw the comedy as a kind Road to Quantico  as Bing helps Bob to concoct a story that he’s an FBI agent and the girl that his wife saw him kissing was… a Russian spy!  No, didn’t work any better with Martin and Tony Curtis. (Hope and Crosby made their seventh and last Road movie, The Road To Hong Kong, in  1961 – and shouldn’t have). Mr Shell Oil Junior talking like Cary Grant was all Curtis’ idea.
  11. Ray Walston,  Kiss Me Stupid, 1964.   Peter Sellers died (eight times) following a massive heart-attack. Comedy auteur Billy Wilder didn’t want (much less, care) to wait and see if he might recover. OK, the sets were up and the clock was ticking, but Wilder sabotaged his own movie, by refusing to wait for the availability of his usual saviour, Jack Lemmon,  and signing…  TV’s favourite Martian! Walston  had been in Wilder’s The Apartment, 1959. But he was   far from Sellers’ league. Not  even in the league of Tom Ewell (from Wilder’s Seven Year Itch, 1954), Bob Hope, Danny Kaye and Tony Randall,  who said replacing  Sellers was an impossibility:  Wilder learned his lesson… During his next film, The Fortune Cookie, Walter Matthau also suffered a heart attack and  Wilder waited five months for him  to recover. Both films were awful. He made five more . But Wilder was over.
  12. Cyril Ritchard, Half A Sixpence, 1967.   Paramount didn’t quite understand what it had in the musical based onHG Wells’ very British Kipps – wanting Bob, Ann-Margret and Dick Van Dyke for the top roles!Why Bob? “Because,” said veteran director George Sidney, “he’d been born in England.”
  13. George Burns, The Sunshine Boys1975.
  14. George Burns, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1977.     Director Michael Schultz, said Rolling Stone critic Paul Nelson, “would seem to need direction merely to find the set, let alone the camera.” Which explains why he saw Hope, Elton John or Barry Manilow as Mr Kite! The mindless morass of most Pepper and Abbey Road songs formed, said Newsweek’s David Ansen, “a dangerous resemblance to wallpaper.”


 Birth year: 1903Death year: 2003Other name: Casting Calls:  14